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Illustration of child being cradled by a fairy

December 25 – Fairies

The myth of fairies has no single origin, but stories of fairy-like creatures are common throughout folklore. These magical creatures usually have a human appearance plus their most distinctive feature […]

Illustration of a chimera or possibly a simurgh (mythical Persian bird) with the head of a dog and claws of a lion

December 24 – Chimera

The composite Persian volume known as the Book of Wonders, deals with natural history and geography. It is made up of the ‘Seven Seas’ section of ‘Aja’ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara’ib al-mawjudat […]

Illustration of werewolf

December 21 – Werewolf

Werewolves are humans with the ability to change into wolves, voluntarily or not, most often on the night of a full moon. This illustration, by Henry J Ford, is from […]

Image of imaginative drollery (or grotesque)

December 20 – Drolleries

Last week we featured a small dragon which comes from our 15th century Rouen Book of Hours (ms38938). This devotional text includes 13 large full-page illuminated miniatures. The margins of […]

Image of a salamander

December 19 – Salamander

While salamanders are real creatures (lizards), within folklore they have been endowed with remarkable attributes, mainly their ability to withstand fire. The image of a salamander was often used within […]

Photo of the Kelpies, mythical water beasts guarding the entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal

December 18 – Kelpies

The kelpie, or water-horse, is a shape-shifting water spirit from Scottish legend. Included in the Robert Burns poem ‘Address to the Deil’ (1786), the kelpie is said to lure travellers […]

Image of a basilisk (with added festive hat)

December 17 – Basilisk

Known as the king of the serpents, the basilisk (from ‘basiliskos’ meaning little king) is a legendary reptile known to be able to kill with just a glance. The basilisk […]

Drawing of half lion - half fish

December 16 – Kraken

The kraken is a giant sea monster from Scandinavian folklore, said to plague sailors. Olaus Magnus, a Swedish author most well known for his Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (A Description […]

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